Misty of Chincoteague was one of my favorites as a child, and I knew Evalina would love it. She has been on a horse loving kick lately, so this was a perfect pick.
The Story: Young Paul and Maureen Beebe live on Chincoteague island, and dream of having their own wild pony from Assateague Island off the coast of Virginia. They have their heart set on Phantom, the most elusive and wild mare of them all. When Paul finally gets a chance to be part his first Pony Penning Day (where the people from Chincoteague gather many of the wild ponies to keep them from getting overpopulated), he manages to capture the Phantom. Along with her comes a surprise - a tiny foal! Paul names her Misty, and hopes that he and Maureen might be able to buy the Phantom and her foal at the pony auction. They worked very hard and saved a lot of money by doing odd chores for people, and soon, the two ponies were theirs! Paul and Maureen worked hard to gentle the wild Phantom, and got her ready for the pony races, while Misty grew up, happy as could be, on Chincoteague. But, while she was somewhat gentled, and ran like the wind itself in the race, Phantom longed for her island home of Assateague.
The Good: For anyone who loves horses, this is a wonderful choice. Paul and Maureen show a wonderful work ethic, doing anything they could to make some money to reach their goal. The descriptions of the horses are wonderful. The story is engaging, and made me want to go to visit Chincoteague (where they still have Pony Penning Day). This is based on a true story, which is really neat. Evalina just loved the story.
The Bad: There are a couple tense spots - like a terrible storm in which Paul is stuck in a horse trailer with the Phantom and Misty, along with times when it wasn't certain that the kids would reach their goal. Some kids might be sensitive about the whole idea of Pony Penning Day, but in my mind, it's a good talking point about why it is something important to do.
The Verdict: Wonderful. Simply wonderful. It really stands up to the test of time. It is recommended for ages 9-12, and I would say that's about right for the independent reader. Evalina is 8 and had no problems with me reading it with her, but she might have had a few problems if reading it alone. Read it. I want to get the sequels for her. Overall, a total win.